Tiger Woods falls back as Jim Furyk, Graeme McDowell lead
SAN FRANCISCO -- There's a first time for everything. That is the thought Tiger Woods has to embrace heading into the final round of a U.S. Open that hasn't followed his old script. Woods never has won a major when he hasn't had at least a share of the lead through three rounds, nor has any of his 14 major victories occurred after he had failed to break par in round three.
He will need to break both of those trends in order to win at the Olympic Club Sunday, now that he trails co-leaders Jim Furyk and Graeme McDowell by five strokes. They both finished at 1 under and are the only players better than par in a tournament that values par.
But they have plenty of company near the top, and the names include accomplished champions and compelling longshots, notably 17-year-old Beau Hossler, who shot par and is 3 over.
"It's wide open," McDowell said. "I look at guys who are 2-, 3- or 4-over par and they still have a chance to win tomorrow."
Woods is 4 over, tied for 14th. His 75 Saturday was worse than the score of anyone in the 13 players ahead of him. He kept missing fairways, missing his line. "It wasn't by much," he said. "I missed it by just a few yards. That was enough."
Earlier, in a discussion of what it takes to win the U.S. Open, McDowell said, "You've got to play Jim Furyk golf. He doesn't take chances he doesn't have to take on. He gets it back in the fairway. He putts well, holes out well. Takes his chances when they come.
"And," McDowell added, "that's my type of golf as well."
Open champions Furyk (who had 70) and McDowell (68) each played a solid Open-tailored game Saturday. They were totally unfazed by the attention showered on Woods -- it was interesting to see the bleachers at the driving range become empty almost completely after Woods left, while Furyk still was hitting balls.
By the time everyone was finished, though, the day did not belong to Woods. And the tournament did not belong to anybody.
Furyk, like Woods, bogeyed two of the first five holes, but then found his footing. McDowell, who had said on Friday that the ordeal of playing this Open was unenjoyable, seemed to be having a grand time, smiling as he birdied 10 and 13.
Hossler kept stealing the show. Four times he made a bogey that appeared likely to end a dream run for the high school junior from California. Every time he bounced back with a birdie. His par 70 was the quintessential Open score.
"I still have the goal to be low amateur," he said, "but my goal now is to win the tournament."
That, of course, always is Woods' goal. He has not been able to do that since he won the Open at Torrey Pines four years ago Saturday. Woods has won twice on tour this year, and was formidably controlled in his first two rounds. It was inevitable that he would be compared to the "old Tiger."
But the "old Tiger" usually pulled away on Saturday. This time he fell back. His tee shot on the first hole found the left rough, led to a bogey and set a tone that continued through a flubbed chip on No. 18.
As for Sunday, Woods said: "There are going to be a lot of guys who'll have a chance to win. But it all depends on what they do with the course."